9

Particularly geographical, historical, folkloric or linguistic connections.

I certainly can't find any such location on the map although there are a few coastal towns in Ulster that begin with "Bally", an alternate spelling. Ballycastle, for instance, seems to be associated with a legendary duel in which Congal, heir to the Kingdom of Ireland killed the King of Norway.

However, according to A Dictionary of Derivations, Sullivan, Robert (1860) p.283, the term is included in the names of at least 2000 Irish locations. From an etymological standpoint the word seems simply to mean a "place" or "settlement".

Part of the reason I ask is that Yeats is a poet of the first order so I tend not to assume anything is random. His plays are interesting, in part, because they occupy a place similar to the work of great Athenian dramatists, who commented on the great mythical cycles of their cultures, recorded centuries earlier by their forbearers.

1

From the entry on the Irish heroine Ailinn in Patricia Monaghan's "Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore":

One of Ireland's greatest romances revolves around this princess of the southern Province of Leinster and her lover Baile Binnbhéarlach ("sweet-spoken Baile"), prince of Ulster in the northeast. As each traveled separately to a trysting place midway between their realms, a maleficent fairy told the prince—falsely—that his lover was dead, whereupon he died of grief at Baile’s Strand, a seashore near today’s Dundalk [...]

Similarly, from the same entry in Peter Berresford Ellis's "Dictionary of Celtic Mythology":

The daughter of Laoghaire Mac Fergus Fairge (in another version, the daughter of Eoghan Mac Daithi). The granddaughter of the king of Leinster who falls in love with Baile, son of Buain and heir to the kingdom of Ulster. Ulster and Leinster were deadly enemies, and here we have a “Romeo and Juliet” tragedy. Aillinn and Baile arranged to meet on a shore near Dun Dealgan (Dundalk). Baile reached the appointed place first. A stranger approached and told him that Aillinn had died when she was prevented from coming to the meeting place. Baile dies from a broken heart. The stranger then appears to Aillinn and tells her of Baile’s own death. She dies of grief. We are not told who the malevolent stranger is apart from the fact that he is one of the gods. Baile is buried at Traigh mBaile (Baile’s Strand) and a yew tree grows from his grave; from Aillinn’s grave grows an apple tree. The poets of Ulster and Leinster cut branches from the trees and carved the story of the tragedy in Ogham on the wands made from the branches. According to the end of the story, 200 years later, when Art the Lonely was High King, the Ogham wands were gathered from Ulster and Leinster and taken to the Tech Screpta, or library, at Tara. As the wands were put into the library they sprang together and could not be separated.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.